Grease is the Word

The alley that leads to the Alley Cat Cafe

Let's play the Find The Sign game.

Nestled in an alley off Street 19, the only indication of the Alley Cat Cafe’s presence is a sign that gets lost in the busy jumble that is Phnom Penh’s street signage. Which is a shame because the food is pretty good.

The view in a booth at the Alley Cat Cafe

The view in a booth at the Alley Cat Cafe

Alley Cat Cafe serves Americana and Mexican food at pretty reasonable prices. The interior of the joint is a bit sparse and could use what I will refer to as “a woman’s touch” but in all honesty, what brought us to the place was the burgers.

And they are definitely worth it.

For some unknown reason, the 4 of us decided to go for it and ordered 5 plates.  2 burgers, 1 sandwich, an order of fajitas and nachos. I was thinking of using the “Fat Cat” option (which doubles the patties for $2.00 extra) for one of the burgers but decided that it would have hit gluttonous levels that I didn’t want to hit for lunch. If you are a bit hungry and were willing to sacrifice dinner, breakfast and lunch the following day, I would suggest ordering the Quadruple Bypass!

Nachos with queso dip and salsa

Nachos with queso dip and salsa

We ordered chips with queso dip and salsa for a starter just to get things rolling. The queso dip was a bit thin for my tastes and I ended up getting some of it on the table during the transfer process from the plate to my mouth. When it did hit my mouth, it was pretty tasty with a surprise addition of sliced button mushrooms in the mix. The salsa that accompanied was very fresh with distinct tastes of lime and chopped chili bursting through.

The next dish to come out was a sizzling plate of Fajitas Loco which combines chicken, steak and chorizo as the filling for the fajitas.

Fajitas Loco at Alley Cat Cafe

Fajitas Loco at Alley Cat Cafe

Accompanying the sizzling dish was some tortillas, rice, salsa, sour cream and a generous helping of shredded cheddar cheese. I really dug the fajitas but if you don’t care too much for chorizo, I would stay away from ordering the Fajitas Loco as the chorizo overpowered the rest of the flavors in the sizzle dish.

Now onto the burgers! We ordered the Supreme and the Bacon, Blue Cheese and Mushroom burgers. Both come with crinkly fries and were cooked medium.

Supreme Burger at Alley Cat Cafe

Supreme Burger at Alley Cat Cafe

The Supreme Burger comes with tomato, iceberg lettuce, and grilled onions on a bun that was buttery and toasty (a huge plus). The Bacon, Blue Cheese and Mushroom burger had sauteed mushrooms, still a bit chewy bacon and an ample amount of blue cheese atop the meat patty. The patties on both burgers had a great crunchy crust that gave way to a  juicy patty when bitten into. Possibly the best hamburger patty I have had in Phnom Penh.

Bacon, Blue Cheese and Mushroom burger at Alley Cat Cafe

Bacon, Blue Cheese and Mushroom burger at Alley Cat Cafe

Bryse came in a bit late and ordered the Steak Sandwich. Unfortunately, Mark, the owner of Alley Cat came over and let us know that they were on the end bits of the bread that they normally use for the sandwich and instead offered the sandwich on a bun, which we didn’t mind after having the burgers.

Steak sandwich at Alley Cat Cafe

Steak sandwich at Alley Cat Cafe

The Steak Sandwich was definitely worth the wait as the steak was cooked to rare (my personal favorite temperature for steak). We pushed the excess factor to 11 by adding cheese and bacon. Talk about a cholesterol bomb!

All in all, the Alley Cat Cafe is a great restaurant that serves huge portions of food at a very reasonable price. You just have to find it first!

4 out of 5 nyamies

Vinh

Nachos with queso dip and salsa

Getting some dip

I’ve only been to Alley Cat for their Mexican fare before, which is quite good. The place itself is a little lacking in ambiance — there’s something a little bit joyless about the place that I can’t quite put my finger on. That said, the burgers at Alley Cat were not half bad.
We had a huge, disgusting spread consisting of chips and salsa plus a cheese dip (which Vinh later dipped his burger in, the glutton). The salsa was excellent but as EJ complained, there wasn’t enough! We also had a regular burger, a bacon blue cheese burger, a steak sandwich and some sort of mixed meat fajitas.
Bacon, Blue Cheese and Mushroom burger at Alley Cat Cafe

Bacon, Blue Cheese and Mushroom burger at Alley Cat Cafe

The burger was good — the bun was toasted, the beef was juicy, a good solid burger. My complaints had to do with preparation. There were no pickles on the burger, which we found out later was accidental. I could taste cumin on a couple of bites, probably from them using the same grill as for the fajita meat without cleaning it, and it wasn’t salted enough for my taste. The blue cheese bacon burger was also good, but I felt the blue cheese overwhelmed the burger and it was too blue cheese-y for me, but others who are bigger fans of blue cheese would love it. Both were served on fluffy weak buns. I know that in our burger tastings we are going to encounter these same buns at most places in Cambodia, but they are the sort of thing I’d knock off a few points for if we were burger tasting in the States, so I feel obliged to mention them here. I ate enough fries that I was nearly sick, so they must have been good.
The real standout was the steak sandwich, which although not technically a burger, was truly delicious and calorically intense, topped with both bacon and cheese. Definitely worth a visit to Alley Cat.
Burger rating: 3/5 nyamies
Overall rating:3.5/5 nyamies

Lina

Supreme Burger at Alley Cat Cafe

Supreme Burger at Alley Cat Cafe

When I eat a burger, I expect to get a little messy.  I mean, to me, what’s a burger without an abundance of toppings and condiments.  I want my burger’s contents to be oozing out of the sides of the bun, and I like it greasy, but again, that’s just me. That’s why Alley Cat’s burgers appealed to me.  They have what I call a ‘Hangover Burger’ which equates to: stacked, messy, delicious, and greasy.  In addition, a lightly toasted burger bun wraps it all up in a nice crispy crunch.  I like that Alley Cat has a satisfying variety of burgers to choose from with different toppings, but, of course, it wouldn’t hurt if they came up with more variations.

Fajitas Loco at Alley Cat Cafe

Fajitas Loco at Alley Cat Cafe

Just in case you’re not a burger person the fajitas will rock your world.  They go the whole 9-yards, providing rice and beans, chicken or beef (or both), salsa and sour cream – I mean, the works, *side note* the mango salsa is flavorful and beyond fantastic.  As a whole, what I appreciate about the Alley Cat is that you get more for your money.  You leave with a full belly and a bit of a food coma.

3 nyamies

EJ

Bacon, Blue Cheese and Mushroom burger at Alley Cat Cafe

Bacon, Blue Cheese and Mushroom burger at Alley Cat Cafe

So far, the bacon cheeseburger at Alley Cat is my favorite burger in Phnom Penh. No crazy frills, just a solid burger with all of the right ingredients (lettuce, tomato, and most importantly pickles). I’m not a big blue cheese fan so I skipped the blue cheese and mushroom and stuck with the supreme and it was pretty great. But like with most restaurants in Phnom Penh, consistency can be a bit of an issue and they had forgotten the pickles on the burger which … was tough.

Making a fajita taco at the Alley Cat Cafe

Making a fajita taco at the Alley Cat Cafe

The fajitas and chips and dip were pretty decent but personally I wouldn’t come to Alley Cat for the Mexican food. Not that it was bad at all but the burgers and sandwiches really outshine the Mexican dishes.

Steak sandwich at Alley Cat Cafe

Steak sandwich at Alley Cat Cafe

The night before we went to Alley Cat I mentioned it to a good friend and he highly recommended the steak sandwich. It had never even caught my eye on the menu but we gave it a shot. The Owner, Mark took our order on the steak sandwich and asked us if we wanted cheese so I asked him what he recommended, his response: “Everything is better with cheese.” He was right. Definitely not an everyday sandwich but it was pretty amazing. I’m always looking for better burgers but so far, Alley Cat is my pick for Phnom Penh.

4 out 5 nyamies

Bryse

Alley Cat Cafe
No. 42, Ang Yukanthor (St. 19), corner of St. 178, opposite Royal School of Fine Arts
Phnom Penh

Just south of street 178, look across the street from the Royal School of Fine Arts for the Alley Cat Cafe sign. Just head down the alleyway for 50 meters and it is on your left.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Grease is the Word

  1. Tuesday Night Ribs and that tangy saucey goodness is the first thing that comes to mind when I read the words Alley Cat, almost forgot they do other things as well!

  2. good selection of food at a reasonable price. Phnom Penh is full of little cafes and hole-in-wall eateries where you can get good food at a good deal. It’s too bad the person who took the pictures and wrote the article didn’t take the time to search for correct spelling of the city.

  3. Pingback: Playgroup and cat burgers | Alistair Speirs

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